High water levels leave big mess for crews at Cochiti Lake

COCHITI, N.M. (KRQE) – A popular New Mexico lake is a big mess right now. Picnic areas are submerged and there is debris all over the place.

Officials say it’s a result of the massive melt off of snow up north, more than the lake can handle.

Crews at Cochiti Lake have a big task ahead, clearing mounds of debris.

“[It was] 2011 when we had the Las Conchas Fire in the Jemez Mountains and since that time we’ve been experiencing increased debris flows,” Project Manager Mark Rosacker said.

Add late snow and a big run off, and Rosacker says the Army Corps of Engineers is releasing more water from the lake than it has in nearly a decade. But it’s still not enough to prevent flooding.

“We have had increased flow since about the middle of April,” Rosacker said. “Water levels have come up three to five feet.”

Sky News 13 captured the high water line taking over picnic areas and shelters along the shore, and big piles of woody debris scattered along the beach.

“Any time the water comes up it refloats logs and other wood vegetation that may have been clogging up stream in the Rio Grande,” Rosacker said.

Park officials warn Memorial Day boaters to look out for large debris floating in the water.

“We have no control or even understanding of everything that might come down the Rio Grande,” he said. “We get bottles, we get tires, we get woody debris, and just do everything we can to make this a nice, hospitable place to visit over Memorial Day weekend.”

As crews anticipate the large crowds, they’re working to move trash bins and tables out of the water and farther from the shore.

The snow runoff this year and large releases at Cochiti Lake have also impacted the levels of the Rio Grande, especially in the Albuquerque and Corrales areas where the water is spilling over into the Bosque.

Corrales officials are asking people not to use the trails in that area because of the danger to both people and horses.

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